Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum
The Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, the largest aviation museum in Illinois, occupied part of the grounds of the decommissioned Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. It and the base were named for Octave Chanute, railroad engineer and aviation pioneer. The museum was dedicated to the life and works of Chanute, the former air base, the history of aviation in the state of Illinois, and hosted an annual air show.
Highlights of the museum included a collection of over 40 aircraft including military fighters, bombers, rescue, recon, and cargo aircraft. Many of these were used for training purposes at Chanute, and most were on loan from the United States Air Force Museum. Other exhibits of note included a replica of the Wright 1903 Flyer, a large collection of Frasca Flight Simulators, and tributes to the veterans who have served in America's conflicts and wars.
The museum offered summer day camp programs, including a week-long aviation camp for teens and a science camp for elementary-school aged children. In addition, the museum offered various educational and social events throughout the year.
The facility enjoyed direct runway access to Rantoul National Aviation Center Airport - Frank Elliot Field, another successful use of the former base facilities. Fly-in visitors were welcomed. Ample vehicle and bus parking was also available to accommodate groups.
Chanute Air Force Base operated in Rantoul from 1917-1993. After decommission, the cleanup and conversion of the 2,125-acre (8.60 km2) grounds began. Economic redevelopment of the former base was a paramount concern to the surrounding community. As of 2008, portions of the site are still unoccupied, due in part to environmental concerns including asbestos contamination. Nevertheless, much has been repurposed into civilian concerns. The Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum was one of the earliest efforts, opening in 1994.
The museum was located in Grissom Hall, which functioned as the missile maintenance training facility during active Air Force operations. Until base closure in 1993, all Air Force Minuteman missile maintenance training was provided at Chanute. The building has largely been preserved and restored to its condition at the time of base closure; hence, four authentic Minuteman training silos remain on display at the museum.
The museum was administered under the direction of a private foundation.
The museum apparently closed ahead of schedule, as of November 1, 2015. The former Facebook link is dead:, as is the museum's own web page, and closure on this date was reported by the Trip Advisor web site.
- Hinton, Dave (2015-04-23). "Chanute Air Museum closing in Rantoul". The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana). Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- Porterfield, Amanda (2015-04-23). "Chanute Air Museum closing for good". illinoishompage.net. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
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